In 1942 at the University of Chicago, scientists created the first
working nuclear reactor, setting in motion the development of the
Chi Alpha leaders hope their recent beginnings in Chicago will
prove as world changing. The city is home to 114 colleges and universities
and 400,000 students, many from other countries.
"There is a tremendous need for the power of the Spirit on
these campuses," says Eric Lerew, Illinois District Chi Alpha
director, who is raising up a team of campus missionaries. "There
need to be communities where the Holy Spirit can touch lives."
Until recently, there was no Chi Alpha group on the major campuses
in Chicago. Lerews strategy is to put full-time campus missionaries
on every major campus in the area.
At the University of Chicago, graduate and professional students
outnumber undergraduates 2 to 1. "Research is paramount,"
says campus missionary Ed Gitre.
Most of the schools at U of C are ranked among the top 10 in the
nation. The school also has one of the largest academic bookstores
in the country a basement packed with maze-like shelves.
A stroll through the campus reveals advertisements for churches
that embrace homosexuality, false doctrines and godless love.
Gitre says that the vast population of graduate students presents
a unique challenge to Chi Alpha ministry.
"Urban Chicago ministry isnt like any Ive ever
been in," says campus missionary Sherri Slagell. "You
have to take the principles youve learned and adjust them
for an urban setting."
For Slagell, to begin reaching the University of Illinois-Chicago
(UIC) meant starting with prayer. She invited Chi Alpha groups to
prayer walk the campus. In the spring she hosted a prayer walking
seminar, and many people spent a cold Chicago day walking the campus
and praying for the students.
"Weve had 95 individuals here on campus interceding
for the students, faculty and Chi Alpha throughout the semester,"
When several Chinese students came to Slagells home for Easter,
she gave them Chinese Bibles. In church, each was able to follow
along with the pastor in a Bible in his or her language.
"We need workers who can live here and assist full-time missionaries,"
Lerew says. "We need people with gifts in evangelism and music
and the arts. Also, interested students need to let us know they
are attending a Chicago school. On many campuses, you have to have
10 to 20 students to even start a group. Our hands are tied until
we have students that come on board."
Lerews vision is to have a building to train campus ministers
to impact the next generation of world leaders at this strategic